Hoeven Continues Efforts to Repeal WOTUS

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of a vote on his legislation to defund the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the U.S. rule, which would prevent its implementation. The senator stressed the rule’s severe impacts and excessive scope, as well as the agency’s lack of legal authority to issue such a broad regulation. The measure, which was offered as an amendment to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, was supported by strong majority of the Senate, though it did not achieve the 60 votes required for passage; the final vote was 56 to 42.

“The EPA’s attempt to expand its reach through the Waters of the U.S. rule is the number one regulatory threat and a real problem for our farmers and ranchers,” Hoeven said. “Further, there is a fundamental principle about how our government works at stake. The EPA has sought through administrative fiat to seize authority that legally belongs to Congress, not an executive agency. While I am disappointed that the vote failed, I will continue my work to stop this burdensome regulation through the appropriations process.”

In November, Congress passed a Resolution of Disapproval cosponsored by Hoeven for Waters of the U.S. Such resolutions are authorized under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress by majority vote to repeal actions by a federal agency after a rule is formally published and submitted to Congress. Despite passage, however, the measure was vetoed by President Obama in January.

Last August, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson issued an injunction blocking the EPA from implementing the WOTUS rule in North Dakota and 12 additional states that had challenged the rule. A subsequent ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court in October blocked the rule from being implemented nationwide while the courts determine its legality.

Hoeven has been working to eliminate the Waters of the U.S. regulation through the appropriations process. Last year, he worked to include a provision in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill that prohibited the EPA from implementing the regulation.

In 2014, Hoeven worked to defund the Interpretive Rule, which enabled farmers and ranchers to operate this year, as they have in the past, under the Clean Water Act’s exemption from having to get a permit before practicing normal agricultural activities like plowing, seeding and minor drainage.